… and a ris­ing UK star

Meet DanSus­man, Bri­tish film’s new­est award-win­ner. By Ben Sil­ver­stone

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

ONE MORN­ING t hree years ago, Bri­tish di­rec­tor Dan Sus­man awoke with an idea for a short f i l m pl a y i ng i n hi s head. Aimed at ad­dress­ing ques­tions of prej­u­dice within and be­tween eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties, the piece would chart the bit­ter­sweet wed­ding-day tra­vails of a Jewish bride and a Pales­tinian groom.

Last Sun­day, Veils, writ­ten and di­rected by Sus­man, re­ceived its pre­miere at the UK Jewish Film Fes­ti­val, hav­ing picked up the fes­ti­val’s Short Film Award. It is fair to say that the pas­sage from dream­time ge­n­e­sis to on­screen re­al­i­sa­tion has been some­thing of a jour­ney.

“Orig­i­nally, the con­cept was to re­volve around a [Mus­lim] Sunni and Shi’a wed­ding,” the 28-year-old Sus­man ex­plains over a bowl of hot green soup in his North Lon­don flat. “But I re­alised the story had to be about the Jewish and Pales­tinian com­mu­ni­ties.

“I felt a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­plore ques­tions about Is­rael and Pales­tine and iden­tity. I was also in­flu­enced by Jack Rosen­thal’s [1976 television play] Bar Mitz­vah Boy and its hu­mane take on Jewish sto­ry­telling.” It may have been Sus­man’s Rosen­thal-es­que knack for com­bin­ing well-ob­served hu­mour with keen poignancy that se­cured the cast­ing of Rosen­thal’s widow Mau­reen Lip­man and David Horovitch.

Mod­estly con­ced­ing that he was “ter­ri­fied” at the prospect of di­rect­ing such es­tab­lished per­form­ers, Sus­man de­scribes the shoot­ing process for this, his third short film since leav­ing Cam­bridge Univer­sity seven years ago, as a gi­ant learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Hav­ing gained the con­fi­dence from the suc­cess of Veils to branch out stylis­ti­cally, Sus­man is now edit­ing a fea­ture-length mock­u­men­tary and de- velop­ing a thriller script of his own. But he also speaks pas­sion­ately about car­ry­ing on the com­mu­nity-span­ning work he has started with Veils, a film made with a cast and crew com­pris­ing Jews, Arabs, Zoroas­tri­ans and — im­prob­a­bly — a Bengali-Ital­ian.

“I want Jewish, Is­raeli and Pales­tinian films to be a con­tin­u­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion: film is such a pow­er­ful way of ex­plor­ing com­mon sto­ries.

“The more mod­er­ate, hu­man Pales­tinian and Jewish voices we hear, the bet­ter.” Veils is screened at the Ev­ery­man Cin­ema, Lon­don NW3, on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 15. Tick­ets on 0870 066 4777

Dan Sus­man ( cen­tre) di­rect­ing the multi-cul­tural cast of Veils

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